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FG approves new test kits for HIV

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As part of measures to mitigate spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the Federal Government has approved the inclusion of Wondfo HIV I and II rapid test kits for the virus in the country.

As stated, the newly approved test kits could be used as a confirmatory test because of its high specification of 99.4 percent and that the result met the requirements set for kits to be included for treatment. 

The National Coordinator, National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NASCP), Dr Akudo Ikpeazu, said that the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) approved the conduct of the laboratory performance evaluation of Wondfo HIV I and II rapid test kit in 2019. 

Speaking while presenting the evaluation report on the kit, on Tuesday in Abuja, explained that the test kits were subjected to thorough clinical trials and received various certifications before being approved by the apex government. 

“The result of the evaluation which was conducted at the reference testing laboratory Public Health in Vitro Diagnostic Laboratory, Lagos showed that Wondfo rapid test kit sensitivity, was 99.5 percent and its specificity was 99.4 percent. 

“The rapid test kit has an accuracy of 99.4 percent with positive and negative predictive values of the kit to the Gold Standard as 99.3 percent and 99.5 percent respectively.  These results met the requirements for the kit to be included in the first-line screening test of the HIV testing algorithm in Nigeria,” she explained. 

She disclosed that Nigeria had conducted some rounds of evaluation of HIV rapid test kits,  using the World Health Organisation(WHO) guidelines for appropriate evaluation of HIV testing technologies in Africa, where three phases of the evaluation were recommended. 

She noted that these phases were, laboratory-based, field-based, and continuous monitoring of the performance of the algorithm and that the National HIV testing algorithms were developed from these rounds of evaluation conducted and all the test kits were antibody-based kits. 

“HIV testing is the fulcrum of any HIV programme as it establishes the individual’s HIV status which then determines the subsequent package of prevention or treatment services that will benefit that individual. 

“A person who tests negative is counseled on how to stay negative, while a person that tests positive is immediately linked to Anti-Retroviral Therapy(ART) services and so the importance of providing accurate and reliable diagnosis devoid of false negatives or false positives results cannot be overemphasized,” she explained. 

In his speech, the Director-General, National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) Dr. Gambo Aliyu, appreciated the national evaluation team for the successful completion of the process, adding that the agency was using all strategy available to increase hematocrit (HCT) uptake in the country.

“Provider Initiative HCT strategy is being introduced to most government-funded hospitals to ensure that all patients that come into the health facility have access to HCT services at no cost,” he said. 

Aliyu noted that there was need for more Nigerians to be tested for HIV in the country, and be placed on treatment immediately, noting that testing remained the gateway for HIV treatment and care services. 

“We have to address the gap between the target and where we are as a nation. We are at 73 percent in our testing and we still need to do more,” Aliyu said.

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